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Evil Twin Lurks in Café Wi-Fi Networks

There is a warning for Internet users about the "evil twin" when they surf the World Wide Web in the local cafes via Wi-Fi.

The reason behind this warning is that in local cafes, hackers create a different free access connection next to the legitimate one and establish the "evil twin". A user who unknowingly uses this alternative connection can potentially allow the hacker easy access to the user's personal information.

Due to the expansion of Wi-Fi networks, there is a rise in the evil twin kind of attack, according to Phil Cracknell, president of the U.K. branch of the Information Systems Security Association. ComputerWorld published Cracknell's comment on April 25, 2007. These types of attacks are more convenient than attacks that seek log-ins or passwords as in phishing where the phisher has to create a fraudulent website to entice people to visit it, Cracknell said.

The evil twin attack simply requires the hacker to fix a rogue Wi-Fi point to a laptop with some simple programming and a USB thumb drive that works as the access point.

The increasing number of wireless networks is enabling opportunities for malicious hackers. These hackers give their access point a similar name as that of the existing Wi-Fi network in the cafe. This way they make people believe their networks to be authentic. Often the hacker is in physical proximity to the victim. Due to their close locations the hacker's signal is stronger thereby attracting more surfers and potential victims.

This attack cannot damage encrypted banking information as it can only interpret text information. There should also be protection for corporate browsers using a virtual private network (VPN) from this type of attack.

Owners of Wi-Fi hotspot seem to be totally ignorant of such attacks although they should check out for rogue access points in their networks, Cracknell said. Another problem relates to reporting. Victims may be completely unaware how someone pinched their information and the owners of hotspots may not want to disclose about any hackers' exploitation in their networks.

Cracknell tells consumers to carefully use free Wi-Fi hotspots pointing to the existence of service charge that many airports and cafes impose for the purpose.

Related article: Evil Genius Takes Tasmanians Residents to Nerves

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